With an eye toward boosting its sponsor roster, Fox Soccer Channel is poised to put itself in the back of the Nielsen net.
The network, which now counts more than 33 million cable and satellite subscribers, will become Nielsen Media Research-rated on Oct. 1.
Converted from Fox Sports World in 2005, the network has become soccer-centric over that period, with an array of fútbol fare including games from the NCAA and the U.S.’s Major League Soccer; England’s Barclays Premier League; Italy’s Serie A; the Argentine First Division; tournaments like the UEFA Cup, English FA Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and FA Community, plus a host of World Cup qualifiers.
Now, it wants to use Nielsen measurement data to verify what its internal research has shown over the past two years: That it has strong delivery of affluent viewers ($75,000-plus households) many of whom are men between the ages of 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 (65% to 70%).
“What we found was that there wasn’t necessarily a lot of crossover with other sports,” said executive vice president and general manager David Sternberg. “The viewers have pretty high incomes. They have passports and have done some traveling. They may have spent some time overseas, which fueled their passion for soccer.”
FSC vice president of ad sales Mike Petruzzi said that being rated will serve the network with a marketplace assist.
“Some clients would not consider us, saying, 'You’re not rated yet and you’re not in 50 million,’ ” he said. “Well, we’re surmounting one of those obstacles.”
As for the other, FSC, which has deals with all major cable, satellite and telco distributors, increased its count from 26 million at this time a year ago. Sternberg said the base will continue to expand as digital cable grows and as it strives to advance from tier positioning to digital basic.
General-market advertisers include Bass, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Guinness, Red Stripe, Corona, Volkswagen, Wyndham Hotels, Geico and Verizon Wireless, plus endemic sponsors like World Soccer Shop and bootmaker Puma. New sponsors on the channel’s docket: Levi’s, Acura and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
FSC officials would not disclose their market estimates.
Pressed for a number, Sternberg said FSC would likely deliver “comparable ratings for elsewhere in the general market with soccer. In some cases, we’ll be better, in some cases we won’t.”
Season to date, MLS matches on Wednesdays and Thursdays on ESPN2 have averaged a 0.2 household rating and 290,000 viewers.